Monday, May 24, 2010

Simon Kuper on Dutch Football - World Cup Buzz

With the football World Cup coming up in South-Africa, I am looking around for football podcasts (sorry, some people use the word 'soccer'). Although I have a general interest in football, for this World Cup I voluntarily impose on myself a tunnel vision. It is the Dutch National football team I am interested in.

The podcast World Cup Buzz had an issue that exactly matched my state of mind (feed). It featured an interview with writer and analyst Simon Kuper to inform the podcast's audience about Dutch football in general and the team's chances in the coming World Cup. Kuper is a very interesting speaker who impressed my with fine vision and clear analysis. I have never heard such a profound assessment of Holland's performance at Euro 2008 which showed two stunning wins over World Champions Italy and the runners up France, followed by a rather pitiful defeat against the Russians.

Kuper acknowledges the impressive strength of the Dutch team with its world class midfielders and strikers. Yet, the mediocre defense, it is his conjecture, will bring Oranje down against the better teams. The greatest praise goes to Spain, but Kuper seems to project the Dutch will falter in the quarterfinals against Brazil. A confrontation with Spanish will not even be reached.

An additional weakness Kuper detects in Dutch football is a matter of cultural mentality. The Dutch are football romanticists. They try to win with elegant attacking play and when they do not succeed in making that kind of an elated performance, they lose the will to win. In that way they are also football moralists, a win should be deserved. Winning ugly or by fluke is not allowed in the Dutch mind-set. It allows for opponents to simply disturb the fluent Dutch play and then the Dutch themselves will present them the win. I fear there may be a grain of truth in this idea of Kuper's though it also seems a bit exaggerated. At least I can recall a couple of ugly wins in Oranje's history.

More football:
Total Football Soccer Show,
Frans Derks,
George Best - Oxford Biographies,
Game Theory,
De jongens van Foppe.

Also view my world cup blog in Dutch: Gezond WK.
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